The shrunken head on this page belongs to our art director, Arthur Paul, the gentleman responsible for the handsome look of Playboy's pages and for the numerous awards and citations given the magazine for its illustrations, photography, typography and design.
Playboy, August, 1956, Vol. 3, No. 8. Playboy is published monthly by HMH Publishing Co., Inc., 11 E. Superior St., Chicago 11, Illinois. In the U.S., its possessions and Canada, subscriptions are $13 for three years; $10 for two years; $6 for one year; elsewhere, add $3 per year to cover foreign postage. Please allow three weeks for entering new subscriptions, renewals and for change of address. Entered as second class matter August 5, 1955, at the post office at Chicago, Illinois, under the act of March 3, 1879. Printed in U.S.A. Contents copyrighted 1956 by HMH Publishing Co., Inc.
Perhaps you're familiar with the yarn about the frustrated soda jerk who wanted to soar to fame as the inventor of the richest, gooiest, most complex sundae in the world -- but was always defeated because his confections looked so good he couldn't resist eating them himself. No? Well, we'll tell it to you someday. We mention it now because we're sitting here wishing the same fate would befall the guys who write much of the rich, gooey, complex prose that adorns the liner notes for so many modern jazz recordings (in marked contrast to the trend toward more interesting cover art). In other words, we wish they'd read it themselves.
The Offbeat Room in Chicago (6344 N. Broadway) is touted as being "for people who usually don't like night clubs." For entertainment they have a jazz trio and a group called The Compass Players (aimed, presumably, at people who usually don't like theatre). A wild-eyed acquaintance recently collared us and insisted we take in the "new concept in theatre" being dished out by these fervent folks. Flatly denying there were any new concepts in theatre these days, we dropped in and were gratified to find we were right. It turned out to be a little like the commedia dell' arte of Renaissance Italy, Dr. Moreno's therapeutic psycho-drama, and the Acting Tech class of any drama school. The common bond among all these is improvisation -- the actors are given a basic situation and they get up and ad lib a playlet of sorts with sometimes interesting results. The Compass Players have a unique advantage over the other three institutions: liquor. After a few stiff ones, the new concept in theatre takes on a certain glow and the facile performers' agility in out-thinking and upstaging each other seems downright supernatural. It's not exactly acting, and it certainly isn't drama, but it is theatre (in the broad sense that includes flea circuses) and it's also a lot of fun. The night we were there, they were nice enough to do up an installment from Shepherd Mead's Playboy series on success with women. It got a lot of laughs from mellowed devotees on both sides of the footlights. The players are put away in mothballs on Mondays and Tuesdays, when the trio takes over. On all other nights, the improvisatori caper from 9 P.M. to closing.
Along toward the end of his morbidly engrossing and brilliantly written novel, A Walk on the Wild Side (Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, $4.50), author Nelson Algren says of his characters, "Hardly a stone so small but was big enough to trip them up and when they fell they fell all the way ... They slept only with women whose troubles were worse than their own. In jail or out, they were forever shaking somebody else's jolt, copping somebody else's plea, serving somebody else's time ... Lovers, secfiends, bugs in flight, the tricked, the maimed, the tortured, the terribly fallen and the sly. All those who are wired to nobody, and for whom nobody prays."
In Shangri-La, the Tibetan Utopia of James Hilton's novel, Lost Horizon, moderation is the modus operandi in all things, including chastity, and that's what makes it a paradise on earth. Accordingly, an only moderately entertaining musical has been made of Shangri-La at New York's Winter Garden (B'way at 50th).
Trapeze has everything, and most of it belongs to Gina Lollobrigida. The basic situation is an old faithful: showbiz "two" act (Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis) broken up by conniving, climbing interloper (guess who). Curtis yearns to master the triple aerial somersault, a trick about as safe as a romp over Niagara in a paper barrel. Burt is the only living aerialist who has accomplished this fillip, though he has a game gam to show for it and at flick's opening is doing menial circus jobs. Tony begs for lessons, Burt refuses, then relents, and the two are slated for circus stardom. Enter Gina, flying through the air with the greatest of tease, and you can just about call the shots from then on. (The double-entendre is laid on heavily once in a while. Asks Burt, sizing up Gina's qualities as an aerialist, "How are your legs?" Gina does a double-take, pauses, smiles seductively, meaningfully replies in sinuous, sensuous, syrupy tones, "I wass owlways strowng in de leks." The posters insist "It happens there in mid-air." Of course it doesn't.) A workable, if whiskered, plot; a socko setting (the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris): but despite these virtues plus some aerial sequences that are well-conceived, well-shot, well-edited and generally well-faked, the picture is surprisingly so-so when we consider the excellence of the producers' (Hecht-Lancaster) and the director's (Carol Reed) previous film fare.
Upon entering the hotel room and glancing at its occupant, Doctor Lenardi assumed that hearty, cheerful manner which is characteristic of all physicians once they have abandoned hope. His eyes flicked over the luxurious appointments -- the thick-piled rug, the hearth, the high fidelity phonograph -- and across the towel-wrapped ice bucket, from which extruded a magnum of champagne, and the single guttering candle: then he smiled. He rubbed his hands together, professionally. "Well, now," he said, "and what seems to be the trouble here?"
"From today, painting is dead," cried Paul Delaroche in 1839 when first shown a daguerreotype. He spoke too soon. For two generations there was life, vigor -- sometimes -- in the stricken body. Even today in odd corners painters may still be found plying their ancient craft for the pleasure of a few impoverished private patrons. But for the professional critics, the public committees, the directors of galleries, the art is indeed dead, picked white; not a smell survives. It is noteworthy that a Frenchman first saw the significance of this French invention. France was the scene of the death agony. Delaroche's prognosis was sound enough. But it was based on a false diagnosis.
Sepy Dobronyi, a handsome Hungarian artist, is one of the best known men in Havana. Founder of the Cuban Art Center, to which he is passionately devoted, he specializes in primitive, semi-abstract sculpture. But it is a very realistic statue that is spreading his fame throughout Cuba. It is a nude of Anita Ekberg.
There is a certain female ornament by some called a tucker, and by others the neck-piece, being a slip of fine linen or muslin that used to run in a small kind of ruffle around the uppermost verge of the woman's stays, and by that means covered a great part of the shoulders and bosom. Having thus given a definition, or rather description of the tucker, I must take notice that our ladies have of late thrown aside this fig leaf, and exposed in its primitive nakedness that gentle swelling of the breast which it used to conceal. What their design by it is, they themselves best know.
Playboy readers are a strongly partisan bunch, quick to tell us when they like something -- or when they don't. Last October, we were faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between two potential Playmates, each lovely in her own way. We hemmed, hawed, made our choice; and in addition to the Playmate proper, we printed photos of the girl who didn't quite make it. The result was a deluge of letters telling us we were blind as the well-known bat and should have picked the other girl. The other girl's name was, and is, Jonnie Nicely. She's Miss August, and we're glad. It grieved us to turn her down before.
We are scholars. Yes we are. We recently traced the origin of the expression, "Hurrah for our side!" back to the crowds lining the streets when Lady Godiva made her famous ride sidesaddle through the streets of Coventry.
Champagne, that tickly tipple, was first discovered through a fluke. One fine day the good Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk of curious bent, sealed up a bottle of ordinary white wine with a wooden cork instead of the customary corky-type cork. He then discovered that by thus preventing the escape of gas, a second fermentation popped into the proceedings -- right in the jug. Since then, the world's most discerning wine-bibbers have poured the golden libation from every sized bottle imaginable. Those who are up on their bubbly lore will match in a finger-snap the names and capacities of 10 such noble vessels. If you get less than 6 right, you should probably stick to grape juice; 7-8 indicates a graduation to vin ordinaire; if you get 9-10, you're definitely in the champagne set.
One time in Alexandria, in wicked Alexandria,
Where nights were wild with revelry, and life was but a game,
There lived, so the report is, an adventuress and courtesan,
The pride of Alexandria, and Thaïs was her name.
Bradford Crane crossed the dressing room to his littered makeup table. He moved with a boxer's occupational grace -- even resembled a boxer in his stained silk robe and the towel around his neck. The loop of bulbs bordering the mirror shed a hard shadowless light. Beneath it he examined this season's face, each profile separately, like a butcher inspecting a side of beef for spoilage. It had heavy hair and eyebrows, a strong nose that saved its olive handsomeness from delicacy. But it was 49 years old, this face. (concluded on next page)
Properly hatted and shod for the midday sun? Our formula includes a touch of the traditional, coupled with a bit of flair for summer kicks. Starting clockwise, just minutes before 12 o'clock high, the shell cordovan scuffs work out great for beach wear or padding beside the pool; cost $8.95. The Byrd cloth knockabout hat by Reeves is neatly holed to let the breeze whip through, yet is completely waterproofed to counter that sudden summer squall; about $4. Italian madness in a rope soled sandal--a blue madras cotton print backed with white duck; the tab, $7.95. Caps figure widely in the casual scene and the 4 o'clock job is an import in Lanella cloth in a traditional check; around $4. Fair weather gear for the schooner crew will invariably include the fabric-topped, rubber-bottomed sailing shoe in a blue-gray by Commodore; about $7. The small ivy-shaped sports car cap with belt in the back is a nattily striped M. W. Thomas cotton; at $3.95. Yacht club and campus favorite of long standing: the classic white buckskin shoe in the traditional five-eyelet oxford with red rubber soles, by Barnett, Ltd., $17.95. The peak-billed fisherman's or golfer's cap in a handsome blue and green tartan plaid comes in a fine D. and J. Anderson cotton from Scotland, is priced at $4.50.
Chicago's near north side stretches over a square mile area just outside the city's Loop, but its spiritual roots stretch to Greenwich Village in New York and to the Left Bank of Paris. On the edge of the city considered the capital of Midwest conservatism, a restless, rebel community thrives: writers, artists, radio, TV, magazine and newspaper people, with a mind, a mood and a morality distinctively their own.
Playboy's Penthouse Apartment--the first half of a full color, twelve page portfolio on the diggings every bachelor dreams of owning . . . the French filming of the Folies-Bergere . . . humorous highlights in the life and times of Ernest Hemingway . . . John Lardner writes about the new heavyweight sensation Floyd Patterson.